Science Fair Project Ideas With Violins

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Musical instruments are good subjects for science fair projects. Violins are a nice choice because of their variability and portability. You can analyze the sounds your instrument makes, or you can alter your instrument and analyze the changes. You also could analyze violin players themselves to determine if they have unique skills. The possibilities for topics are as varied as the music you can play on your violin.

1 Violin Strings

This project analyzes the stability of violin strings to maintain pitch. The strings are composed of a core fiber wrapped in metal wire, either copper or silver. The core of the string is made of synthetic fiber, sheep gut or steel. The pitch of the string is determined by its thickness and make-up.

For this project, test strings of various materials, tune your violin and measure how long the strings stay on pitch. Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity should be included in your analysis.

2 Relative Pitch

Determine whether violinists have better relative pitch than piano players. The hypothesis is that a violin player has better relative pitch because he must choose the proper position on the string for the correct pitch, thus requiring a better musical “ear.”

In this project, have violinists, pianists and non-musicians listen to samples of pitch intervals in a controlled setting. The participants should indicate whether the second pitch is higher or lower. A more difficult test is to determine the actual intervals of the pitches. Analyze the data to see which group has the best relative pitch.

3 Effect of Rosin

Determine the amount of rosin needed to produce a quality sound on a violin. A violinist uses rosin on the hairs of her bow to produce the friction needed to make sound as the bow is drawn across the strings. Analyze the different types of rosin that are available and the sound quality each produces.

4 Soundpost Placement

Moving the location of the violin’s soundpost in relation to the bridge and the "F" holes affects the timbre of a violin. The sound may be analyzed through audio spectrum analysis done on a computer. Begin with a baseline analysis of the "A" string tuned to 440 hertz in its original position, then move the post to various places and test the sound. You also can analyze the sound by ear. Any alterations to your violin should be done by a professional.

Jean Breeding is a freelance writer in Knoxville, Tenn. She is a former high school English teacher and has participated in writing seminars for teachers in Tennessee and South Carolina. She recently completed coursework to become a certified technical writer. Demand Studios is her first professional writing venture.